Skip to main content

Father of Assam's floating boats advises Gujarat activists not to accept govt interference in day-to-day work

Sanjoy Hazarika interacting with NGOs
By Our Representative
Sanjoy Hazarika, brain behind “floating clinics” of Assam, has advised Gujarat-based non-government organizations (NGOs) not to accept any government interference while working for the welfare of the people. Answering a flurry of questions from top Gujarat NGO representatives on “success” of his experiment and relations with Assam government, Hazarika, who currently runs as many as 16 boat clinics in Brahmaputra river in a dozen districts in order to reach farthest of the areas, said, “When the state health minister offered support, my condition was, we would accept government funds only one condition: No interference in our work.”
Saying that this was the crux of his success, which began about a decade ago in one district and one boat with the aim of fighting Assam’s highest maternal mortality rate (MMR) in India, 481 deaths per 1 lakh live births, Hazarika said, on his part, while signing an agreement, he “offered complete transparency, but made it clear that would withdraw in case government officials interfered.” The issue cropped up when Pankti Jog of Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch (AHRM) said government’s mobile clinics in the Little Rann of Kutch, where saltpan workers work in remote and harsh conditions, had “collapsed”.
“The state government now says that it seems it is unable to go ahead with mobile medical clinics, as it cannot get doctors’ support. It has offered AHRM to take up the work of running mobile clinics”, Jog said, wondering what was the solution, and whether the organization which she represents should go ahead. “When I met the Assam chief minister with my experiment, he said it was a good experiment and I should go ahead with it”, Hazarika said, adding, following out experiment with just one boat, the district magistrate, Dibrugadh, showed interest, and then the health minister offered support.”
Currently part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the top Assam activist said, “A major reasons why doctors remain with floating clinics is, we have managed to take interns as part of the team. The interns who join us are offered Rs 5,000 more than the stipend in government hospitals. Then, those who join us get extra marks for their work with us. Although doctors are young, their presence has been a great help to about 20 lakh people living in scattered islands in Brahmaputra river, which at places is 18 kilometres wide.”
Already, Hazarika said, offers have come from at least three other states to go ahead with experiments on similar lines – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. “But unless local activists get involved and go ahead, and government agrees to work without seeking to interfere in day-to-day work, this will not go ahead”, Hazarika insisted. While calling his experiment as “public-private partnership”, he said, “As we are part of NRHM, we do not charge anything from the patients, including for delivery. Our health clinics have helped bring down MMR in Assam to 350, the highest fall anywhere in India.”
During the interaction, Hazarika showed a film on the floating clinic, produced jointly with the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-NES). It shows how the major innovative health campaign reached some of the most marginalized and poorest communities in India who live on hundreds of islands, called saporis, inaccessible and isolated, unknown and unheard.
A statement issued on the occasion by Benoy Acharya of Unnati, which organized the interaction, said, “There are no roads here but today, but boat clinics, conceived and developed by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, and manned by doctors, nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists as well as crew, organizers and community workers reach more than a million people, pulling them out of a deadly cycle of maternal and infant mortality, conditions which contrast dramatically with the overwhelming beauty of the place.
The statement said, “In partnership with the National Rural Health Mission of Assam, in tough terrain, rough weather and choppy waters, the teams struggle to bring communities from the margins of despair to the embrace of hope.C-NES is supported by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), to implement a project providing preventive and promotiove health services in the islands through specially designed boats.”
Hazarika is Saifuddin Kitchelew Chair and is the Director of Centre for North East Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and managing trustee of C-NES a non-profit established in 2000 and is an eminent writer, journalist and an expert on the region. He is Member of the Central Council of Health & Family Welfare, under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare nominated by the Government of India. He has been a member of various academic organizations and official committees, including the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee to Review AFSPA, the Society of Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, and the North East India Studies Programme, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Very Good work done by him... Commendable .... Hats off to him.

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).